For the number of vampire books I read, you’d say I was obsessed with vampires. Not true. I like the concept of vampires and the possibilities that they open up in storytelling. Like zombie stories, very few works actually take advantage of those possibilities, however, so when a fresh approach is given to a vampire or zombie tale, I love it.
Vampires are real. Dave is a vampire. This however, is so not cool. Needing money to pay for college, Dave applied for an overnight job at The Last Stop, a 24/7 convenience store. He got the job, and more than he bargained for–his boss, Lord Arisztidescu, an immigrant capitalist vampire, made him the new night employee. Permanently.
Part Clerks, part Reality Bites, Life Sucks explores the life (er, unlife?) of a perpetually 20-something stuck in a dead (ha ha, no end of puns here) end job, searching for love, and trying to maintain being a vegetarian while having to subsist on human blood. He compromises and lives off of stale blood from blood banks and the Blood Brew his store carries (it, and several other locations in Los Angeles cater to vampire and human clientèle…an early reference to imported “blood-orange juice” only found at The Last Stop is priceless). Everything is rather lousy for Dave until a pretty goth chick named Rosa enters his life, but of course fellow vampire Wes (a surprisingly tan surfer dude that was also turned by Dave’s master) butts in on things. A classic “get the girl” story ensues, albeit one that features modern day vampires and a bet that involves not using special vampire powers to make her fall for them. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a bumpy road for Dave and Rosa’s relationship.
There are some definite memorable moments throughout the story. In particular, at one point Rosa is musing to Dave about how great it would be to be a vampire (not knowing that his is one). On the left hand of the page, panels depict her vision of aristocratic vamps living carefree lives in castles, holding fancy galas and pursuing noble goals, and living removed from the chaos and strife of human life. Juxtaposed on the right hand side of the page are images of actual vampire life: the old world vampires smoking cigars and playing poker in back rooms, Dave sweeping the Last Stop’s parking lot, and him pumping fake cheese onto customers’ nachos.
Another memorable moment takes place while Wes and two of his underlings are surfing at night. Annoyed by one of them, he simply reaches over and rips her throat out with his teeth. Violent, yes. A tad graphic, yes. Exactly what I wanted to happen to the stupid girl? Yes. Wes may be a jerk, but it’s an awesome moment.
All in all, this graphic novel is fantastic. The storyline is wonderful, featuring a new twist on vampires, realistic characters, humor, and tragedy. It’s a great slice of life with a healthy dose of the undead, as well. And of course, it wouldn’t be much of a graphic novel without artwork. Pleece’s illustrations are great, and I will be looking for more of Pleece’s work. He captures the characters perfectly, and the panel approach works well. It really feels like you’re looking right into Dave’s L.A.
Life Sucks. Check it out.
Next time, really: Hellboy: Darkness Calls; B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground; and Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus.